July 10, 2018

Life Lessons of Fishing and Fathers

By Kelly B. Kendall

There is something magical about father’s taking their offspring fishing! Whether it is a lake or stream or even the community pond, kid’s love a fishing trip, especially with their dad. Like most things in life, day dreaming about the upcoming trip to the lake with a fishing pole and some fresh caught worms from the garden becomes enchanted and the mind dreams up catching your limit and of course catching the ‘big one’.  In many ways, preparing for and talking about the next adventure can be just as fun and meaningful as the actual trip to the lake, and having them help plan the details such as where to go, and what food to take develops deep and meaningful relationships.

Growing up, it seemed that My Uncle Jerry always had something special planned for every Saturday, which many times included fishing somewhere in Southern Utah. As a young boy, I longed to go on those fishing trips and was fortunate to go many times which I am infinitely grateful. My own father was an excellent stream fisherman and spent many a day in the streams up Nephi Canyon and on the other side of Mount Nebo, and wished more than ever that I had learned more of his mystical fishing secrets!

For many, remembering fishing trips with dad brings a nostalgic mood and the ‘fish stories’ generally getter better over the years – where the fish were much bigger than when they were caught, the food was tastier, and the time spent together treasured more than ever.

It’s been said that the way you spell love to a child is T – I – M – E. I get sentimental when thinking of memories of time with my father who passed away ten years ago and long to visit with him again. I would have taken more time to create more memories which include working on projects, planting, weeding and harvesting a garden, mowing lawns, sleeping in his Highway Patrol Office on Christmas Eve so the other patrolmen could be home with their families Christmas Eve, and even sitting in the passenger seat of his 1964 Chevy El Camino with ‘three on the tree’ driving for hours in the desert listening to Johnny Cash on the radio while he drove the lead car for wide loads as a side job to his Highway Patrol career to earn money for a large family. I was blessed with a dad who was a wonderful example, especially as a role model and example including a tenacious work ethic and realize more than ever that not everyone was so blessed to have an engaged father or even a father in the home at all.

A father can teach many things on a fishing trip including how to tie knots, bait a hook, and how to cast, however, there are many other gravitas things taught by example such as patience, stamina, understanding, determination, long-suffering, tolerance, and of course did I mention ‘patience’. Each dad has his distinctive way of teaching and making memories such as in the book, “Fishing with Dad”, author Michael J. Rosen, shares the secret behind his perfect boyhood record of always catching the first fish! We all have the opportunity to create fun traditions when taking our children fishing such as waking them when they are young to get them dressed with excitement of the possibility of catching a monster fish, to picking up a breakfast burrito or fresh doughnuts on the way to the lake which create nostalgia and memories for a lifetime.

Fishing was a rare treat with my father and we treasured the times we were lucky enough to go. Even if we didn’t catch any fish, our mother always packed a yummy picnic lunch to take along for the father-son trips which was always welcome and even helped salve the wound of getting ‘skunked’ on occasion. However, there’s one fishing trip I will never forget with my dad and brothers, Kerry and Kurtis that didn’t turn out not so good and might have been the last fishing trip with my dad that I can remember. My youngest brother Kurtis was casting and caught my dad right in the nose which ended that trip promptly before we even got a worm in the water.  All I remember is a quiet trip home while eating the yummy lunch our mother always provided. That event precipitously ended our fishing adventures, which we all longed for.  For me as a dad-in-training and after fishing over my life time, there will always be mishaps, with getting hooked, spills, losing poles to resolute fish heading away from the bank or boat, stopping everything to help with a potty break, sometimes on the side of the pond or over the bow of the boat.  I longed for a fishing bond with my children and we tried fishing along with boating fun, but it seemed the boating fun always took precedence over the fishing, but we enjoyed the time spent together nonetheless.

One benefit of fathers taking their children fishing is the ‘boat rule’ of no smart phones on the boat, which sort of forces everyone to talk together. Technology is a blessing and a curse as it can be very distracting and be a barrier to developing meaningful relationships. Sometimes just enjoying total quiescence and just spending time together makes wonderful memories. And of course the excitement that resembles getting lucky 7’s in a slot machine and winning the jackpot can get the adrenaline pumping with ‘fish on’ and can even be a little bit addictive, yet so meaningful as the stories are told from one generation to another. Another wonderful benefit is the opportunity to cheer for our children and give lavish praise when they catch and reel in a fish, no matter the size, while shouting admonitions like a ringside boxing coach, such as ‘keep the pressure on’ or ‘rod tip up’, all the while getting the camera ready to freeze a memory for the future.

Father’s don’t have to be an expert at fly fishing, nor expect it from our children, or allow the purpose of the trip to be more about ‘catching fish’ than enjoying life’s journey together so they want to go again, and again!

At the end of the day, it isn’t really about the fish, but about our children and making cherished memories that will last a lifetime. Fishing doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive, in fact recently in Virginia, the 25-year state record was broken after reeling in a 68-pound Catfish with a $20 rod he bought from Walmart. All it takes is a little time, a hook and a worm.  May we remember to live more in the moment and give the gift of love, spelled T – I – M – E! 

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